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Who plays the cards they are dealt?


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I do choose my basses quite carefully now. Much as though I like them, an early P-bass neck is not for me. I have had a couple of 50's reissues and moved them on.

The fact that the neck was huge also figured in me parting company with my 1953 P-bass. It was just too uncomfortable to play over a prolonged period. I am too used to a B profile neck and all my basses have that profile (except the Tokai Jazz).

That said. I could cope with a bass that was different if needed but it wouldn't be one I own.

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Posted (edited)

I firmly believe that ‘the wand chooses the wizard’... in that the basses that stumble into my life inevitably turn out better than the ones who’s specs I agonise over. There is almost no crossover between the instruments on my wall. I strongly disliked the colour of what is now my main bass when I first saw it, and yet here we are 3 years later!

So much so that when ordering my next Sandberg I left them with a few options so I’m not 100% certain what will arrive in September!

Edited by knicknack
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Posted (edited)

I would imagine a lot of people start with a bass that is favoured by an idol bass player, or it's simply the "best" they can afford. So they give it a go and get used to the neck. We may then experiment a bit and find a niche type/style of bass and settle with it. The feel of the neck will be something that you get used to. After that isn't it more a question of how may folk find they can easily accomodate different widths and depths or shapes of neck without it bothering them or the differnce in the feel messing up their muscle-memory?

As far as it being "the cards your're dealt" is this finding those who are lead to a starter bass by fate (affordability of the bass, or it was a gift) and never really experimented with anything different?
By definition, aren't most people here ones who do experiment and believe in trying different things? Because the "fate" type guy is probably one who plays in the band that he plays in, never pushes the envelope, just plays the roots on the one bass he has and goes home.

Edited by Grangur
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I started playing bass on a bass that was owned by the band (an Ibanez SG copy I think), and grew to hate the sound of it when cranked up.  I was in a place that had very limited options to buy my own bass. Back in those days I was earning big money so on a trip home went to Denmark Street without a strict budget, and  bought myself a nice new Peavey Cirrus BXP which had a really thin and narrow neck and was the most comfortable think I could find in all teh shops there.  This stayed with me for a while but when it failed one evening at practice I borrowed the studios Squier PB which had quite a chunky neck  and liked it so much I bought a American Special Precision (narrowish  slim C precision neck).  After using this for most of my playing I found the Cirrus a bit tight for my fingers and Pex'd it for a Squier 70s CV Precision which is slightly chunkier than the American special.  So in answer to the OP I'll play what I've got but when buying will choose what feels right at the time, and in a few years I might change my mind.

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15 hours ago, Lord Sausage said:

Maybe I should just have said 'who doesn't think about it?' or 'who isn't it an issue for?'

I can't say I've ever even really thought about anything other than the pickups.

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The only bass that I just couldn't get on with was a Steinberger. I was given a lend of one years ago.I like to rest my wrist or hand on the body as stability for playing with my fingers. The Steinberger kept wanting to turn left as I put pressure on the fingerboard. As I had nothing to press back on I found I was struggling to stand in one position. It was an uncomfortable experience.

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Are you a leader or a follower?

So many players here seem to have picked their first instrument based on what their "hero(s)" played. I've never really felt like that. maybe it's because I see myself first and foremost as a composer/songwriter, secondly as a producer, and only thirdly as a musician. Also I've never really concentrated on just one instrument. I started on guitar and have also had spells playing synthesisers as well as bass guitar in bands. I'm interested in any musical instrument capable of producing sounds that I find relevant for the music I write. Also I'm not really interested in following the mainstream. That's not to say I won't be influenced by it (both positively and negatively), but I'm not intent or following it slavishly. I'll take on board ideas that I like and make a conscious decision not to be like bands I don't like, but all those influences get mixed up an hopefully something a little bit unique comes out of it.

I'm very much the same when it comes to my choice of musical instruments. In many ways my tastes have been shaped by the "cards I have been dealt". My first guitar was an acoustic - my parents very much disapproved of "pop music" and this was as far as they were prepared to support my musical endeavours - that I modified over the years to incorporate pickups and various other things that would allow me to get closer to realising the music that I wanted to make. My first proper electric guitar was one I built myself during my last year of school when I really should have been working on my A Level studies. It was a mixture of originality and what I could afford. If I was influenced in my choice of instrument by the musicians whose bands I liked it was that the ones I found interesting (and noticed) all used non-mainstream designs. The guitar I built had obvious influences (Explorer, 345, Iceman) but the combination of influences made it a unique instrument.

It was the same when I came to buy my first bass. It was a combination of what I could afford and a conscious desire not to have the same bass as everyone else. Ultimately it was completely by chance that I ended up with the bass that I did. I just happened to drop by a music store before I went back to university and hanging on the wall was one of the most unusual basses I had ever. Later research showed that it was actually a Burns Sonic from the early 60s, but in the state it was when I bought it I wasn't entirely sure that it wan't home-made. Probably the most important thing about was that I could afford it (if I spent a bit less on food for next couple of months), but it also looked interesting - particularly next to the Grant and Columbus copies. IIRC it cost £55 including the original had case and I persuaded the salesman to chuck in a strap as well. As an instrument it served me well throughout the 80s, and both it's strengths and limitations very much shaped my playing style and the bass sounds I would come to favour.

When I finally decided that it time to "upgrade" in the early nineties having spent the previous years mostly playing synthesiser and guitar in bands I bought a second-hand Overwater Original 5-string. Again the choice was based almost entirely on cost (it was a complete bargain because apparently no-one else wanted it and the store was getting desperate to sell it) and the fact that it didn't look like any of the other instruments in the shop.

Ultimately I have come to realise that I don't like "ordinary" looking instruments. 

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16 hours ago, Lord Sausage said:

That's not to say I'm not fussy! I like low actions, light basses and won't play a bass with bad neck dive.

Hence why I bought a Sandberg Super Light! 

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Rule #1, any bass I buy has to sound better than the last one. After that my red lines are very simple. . . .  must have a low B, have 18/19mm string spacing at the bridge and, in the last 3 years, must weight less than 9lbs. That's it, I really don't care about pickups, preamps, scale or anything else. I haven't found a neck I couldn't play, and I don't have a sound in my head. Simple really. The next bass just has to sound better.

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Posted (edited)

For me most of the bassists whose both sound and playing I like/liked played Precisions, so I suppose it was fate/the hand I was dealt that I would end up playing them as well. Those sounds and playing styles inspired me to play the bass, without them I might not have found the instrument and ended up on the G-word full time. Makes sense to me, in as much the same that if I couldn’t stand the sound of a certain type of bass then I wouldn’t choose to own/play one.

Edited by Lozz196
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7 hours ago, acidbass said:

I have to say I have never noticed the weight of a bass ever and feel lucky that this isn't a consideration of mine.

I seem to go the opposite way of the Basschat weight trend, and like an instrument that is ideally 9-10lbs. I don't mind a bit either way, as long as they aren't super heavy or light.

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12 hours ago, Doddy said:

I seem to go the opposite way of the Basschat weight trend, and like an instrument that is ideally 9-10lbs. I don't mind a bit either way, as long as they aren't super heavy or light.

I get where you’re coming from Doddy, I had a sub 8lb Precision and it just didn’t feel right, felt like it was floating in the wind. 

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On 02/06/2021 at 18:45, TheGreek said:

I have no issues with either J or P profile necks. The only bass I've ever had issues with the neck profile was on a Wal.

So in my collection I have two Aria SB1000s - one fretted and one fretless, a 2001 Epiphone Thunderbird, a 1985 Wal fretless and my first ever bass, a Satellite Jazz copy from 1979. All very different neck profiles, which is an issue that, being honest, I never even think about. In the same way it would never occur to me to worry about what wood a bass is made from. If you don't know, you can't tell from listening. I think we all worry about these things far too much. Consumer culture has taught us to expect to have EXACTLY what we think we want, regardless of its actual merits. GAS at work.....

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I've agonised over this for decades buying this and that, then I bought a CV 70' P  bass last year which is grt...but I dont like maple necks so I swapped the skinny little neck off my VM P and presto I think I may have the best P bass I've ever owned. Something about the heavyish body coupled with a super light skinny  neck just feels incredible and sounds very good too.... and all for a few quid.

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On 02/06/2021 at 18:22, Lord Sausage said:

No, it's not about cards.

I've noticed, in varying places on this forum, different players saying they only use J necks or P necks, or certain profiles etc.

I'm not passing judgement on this at all but who just accepts what they have?

I've never really thought about it. I've obviously noticed the difference but have kind of seen it as the challenge of that particular instrument.

 

That's not to say I'm not fussy! I like low actions, light basses and won't play a bass with bad neck dive.

 

would you keep wearing your trousers if they were too tight?

Why accept what you have if you can change it to what you want? Most of my guitars have re-shaped necks, or upgraded pups, or chamforing.

Not my basses though 😜

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1 hour ago, MacDaddy said:

 

would you keep wearing your trousers if they were too tight?

Why accept what you have if you can change it to what you want? Most of my guitars have re-shaped necks, or upgraded pups, or chamforing.

Not my basses though 😜

 

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3 hours ago, MacDaddy said:

 

would you keep wearing your trousers if they were too tight?

Why accept what you have if you can change it to what you want? Most of my guitars have re-shaped necks, or upgraded pups, or chamforing.

Not my basses though 😜

I think the answer to that is "no reason at all", except that I think it tends to become a displacement activity for some, like the endless search for the perfect strings that some double bass players get involved in (honestly, who has time for messing with mixed sets of strings????). I think the answer to most of the problems people encounter with neck profiles, balance, string spacing etc etc is simply to play the bass and get used to it, and focus on making music. Just my opinion, not saying anyone is wrong, just that there's a risk of too much focus on the gear.....

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4 hours ago, greavesbass said:

I've agonised over this for decades buying this and that, then I bought a CV 70' P  bass last year which is grt...but I dont like maple necks so I swapped the skinny little neck off my VM P and presto I think I may have the best P bass I've ever owned. Something about the heavyish body coupled with a super light skinny  neck just feels incredible and sounds very good too.... and all for a few quid.

Funnily enough I prefer RW necks as well (more for the look), but I only own two basses and they are both maple. 

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I know that I find Jazz profile necks easier to play, and therefore practice for longer - this is a good thing.

For this reason I have J necks on all 3 of my basses. Electrics and pickups etc... have come and go, but they’ll always have J necks. If you’ve got the choice to tailor an instrument to make playing less of an effort why wouldn’t you?

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I'm not so fussed about the neck profile (as long as it isn't a baseball bat), have never noticed different radiuses and I don't even know the string spacing of any of my basses either. The only thing I have a preference on is the finish on the neck and I prefer gloss or painted over satin.

Maybe I should pay more attention! 

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In my very limited experience learning bass its hasn't been the shape weight or style of the bass but more the 'OOH, that's purdy!' can I afford it?' that has influenced me. Once I get my precious home I find that the way it sounds very much influences how and what I play.

Uke - 50mm nut. very reminiscent of a DB, play mostly folk/country on it. Strings have been the biggest issue here and the only time I have really spent time and money getting something I'm happy with, finally settling on Aquila Thunderblacks.

Taylor acoustic mini - 45mm nut, folk/country

Ibanez SR x2 - 35mm nut, blues/rock/country

As you can see there's a fair variation in nut widths in there and I don't really have much of an issue adapting although the Uke can be a bit awkward on the E string. The span of my fretting (left) hand is almost 2" wider than my right, I worked really hard early on be able to cover 4 frets. I'm looking to add a 5er this year and was concerned that I might not manage fretting the width but I think the Uke has covered that for me.

I'm fairly selective about looks, then how it sounds, then price it would have to be gigging and sound really special to get me to part with over a grand. But for now I'm just a bedroom bassist playing for pleasure and learning as best I can.

 

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11 hours ago, Jonesy said:

I'm not so fussed about the neck profile (as long as it isn't a baseball bat), have never noticed different radiuses and I don't even know the string spacing of any of my basses either. The only thing I have a preference on is the finish on the neck and I prefer gloss or painted over satin.

Maybe I should pay more attention! 

I have an Ibanez K5 which is a lovely bass but it has a very narrow string spacing which seems to be common on Ibanez guitars in general. I struggle with playing it as my sausage fingers get caught up. I know its just familiarity as I don't have any problem with playing guitar. it's just the thicker bass strings being so close to each other makes me sweat.

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In the day when I owned A LOT of basses, I found that even though the ones I liked playing the most all had quite different string spacings at the nut and bridge, when I looked at the string spacing at the point where I plucked the strings they were all almost identical.

The only time I've made a conscious effort to find a bass with the string spacing I liked was when I started playing Bass VIs. This is probably because most of them appear to be designed for guitarists and I'm approaching it as a bass player, and for me the necks are narrow even by guitar standards. However I'm sure that had I started playing these 40 years ago I would have adjusted to manage whatever I could find and (more importantly) afford. It's only now that I no longer have to put up with instruments that aren't exactly what I want through a combination of far wider choice, availability and disposable income.

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I agree with @Lord Sausage. I went through a very short phase of preferring a p bass neck, but that was entirely influenced by reading Basschat. I had no clue that nut width and neck profile existed as a variable until I kept reading it here. 

I actually don't give a monkeys what size or shape the neck is, it's different across all my basses. 

The only card I can't play - or rather prefer not to play - is neck dive. I buy purely on aesthetics now. I keep a bass unless it's uncomfortable to play. 

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